Manuel Uberti’s review published on Letterboxd:
I can't believe this is so maligned. This is one of the most interesting and accomplished piece of science fiction I've come across in a while, and as of now my favourite Shyamalan. Three reasons, mainly:
- The unknown and the constant anxiety while we slowly progress in our understanding of it is breathtaking. It was toned down by the middle part in Unbreakable and it didn't really get to me in Split, but here the balance of disbelief and wonder, danger and discovery is right on point. It comes down to simply feeling for the adventure, a magic hard to get but when it's there is engrossing. Spielberg knows what I mean.
- The Kitai-Cipher relationship is rich and full of nuances. One thing that I particularly didn't enjoy in Unbreakable was the dynamic of the father and son scenes. There wasn't enough emotional charge to attract me to the family and the delicate path Dunn was about to put them through. In After Earth, on the other hand, Shyamalan clarifies immediately what's at stake, and he builds on it with a range of situations which put Kitai and Cipher love for each other seriously on the front line.
- As a digital work, this is a spectacular achievement. Vibrant in every possible way, it could easily be spoiled but Shyamalan's visual trickery, but everything fits without a glitch. I'll just cite a scene which to me sums it up pretty well: Kitai on the raft, along the river. It closes maybe too quickly on Kitai's dreaming of his sister, but the world around Kitai has never felt so beautiful and ugly at the same time before. It may be a stretch of my enthusiasm right now, but I couldn't help but thinking of the last segments of Aguirre and Apocalypse Now in that moment.